Did you know that
A 2000 study found that a chicken soup recipe passed down from a Lithuanian grandmother inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection, which may reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.
The organizers of a national chicken soup contest urged contestants to think progressively in the “Better Than Your Bubby’s” soup competition.
“It’s something that is traditional, but can be made new for every generation,” said Ilya Welfeld, a spokeswoman for the National Jewish Outreach Program, which sponsored the contest.
The five recipe finalists were sampled on Thursday afternoon at Abigael’s on Broadway by a panel of seven judges that included Jeff Nathan, the co-owner of Abigael’s, and Jamie Geller, who has been called the “Jewish Rachael Ray.”
The winner of the last contest, Rosaley Himmelstein, arrived but declared she was loath to give up her title as the Queen of Chicken Soup, which she has had for five years. “What are my grandchildren going to say: ‘My grandmother used to make the best chicken soup’?” said Ms. Himmelstein, who puts her trophy on her table when she has guests.
The five finalists were Michael Cohen of Los Angeles; Jackie Gregston of Hallsville, Tex.; Wolfgang Hanau of West Palm Beach; Elizabeth Kratz of Bergenfield, N.J.; and Diane Nemitz of Ludington, Mich. (Not all the finalists are Jewish.) The winner received not only glory (with the recipe disseminated as part of Shabbat Across America), but also a free trip to Israel, among other prizes.
So, who was the winner?
The winner was “D,” a recipe called “Elat chicken soup,” by Mr. Cohen, which included English cucumber, eggplant, allspice, turmeric and cumin.
“I’ve never seen a chicken soup done that way before and it still be called chicken soup,” said Ms. Geller, who awarded Mr. Cohen’s soup a five for creativity but a one for appearance. “There was a lot going on.”
Here’s the winning recipe from the NJOP website:
Elat Chicken Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium eggplant, diced
3 tablespoons fresh dill leaves, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1 English cucumber, diced
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. In a small mixing bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice, salt, and pepper; mix well.
Season chicken with about 1/2 of the mixture (save remaining 1/2).
Add chicken to pot and cook for 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Pour off any fat from the pot.
Add another tablespoon oil to pot; add onion and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and remaining spice mixture and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Add chicken stock, chickpeas, potato, carrot, eggplant, dill, and 1/4 cup cilantro to pot; return chicken to pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Add in cucumber. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Chop up chicken. Sprinkle soup with remaining cilantro leaves.
Makes 6-8 servings.